It isn’t something that gets talked about at parties or even mentioned in prayer requests, but the battle against dementia is being fought by far more people in our circles than we may know. I’m finding that out slowly, but surely as more and more people contact me seemingly out of the blue…but not really. It’s been happening for months now. As always, God has a plan. It seems as though He is determined to increase my faith the hard way, to build my prayer life deeper, and (oddly enough for this introvert!) to increase my community by using a disease that separates its victims from their own.
It’s not that I have all the wisdom about dementia (that is FAR from the truth and simply impossible), but I do have a platform in this blog and since everything else about me belongs to God, this does, too. Just publishing the part 1 of this string on dementia created multiple conversations with people I’ve known for years without being aware that they, too, were parting with loved ones long before their actual demise.
Here’s what I do know: the words that we use to describe dementia aren’t adequate. Insidious. Cruel. Angry. Heartbreaking. Vicious. Painful. Sad. Heart-wrenching. Horrendous. These are some of the descriptors used by friends who know the power or this disease. Every single word applies, but none of them–or even the grouping of them together!–is enough to cover the bases of dementia as it steals the minds and removes the last vestiges of what makes us individuals, the personality God gave us from the beginning and the bits we’ve added along the way.
My only comfort right now comes in knowing that as awful as this disease is, my God is greater…even when it feels like He is being silent. Earlier this week, I stood ready to enter a store. My phone rang with another update. On the other end, another–Strong!–and devoted loved one cried out as she stood in the thick of the battle. Once again, my hands were tied and I was far away, so I did the only thing I could do–the very thing that on the surface doesn’t seem like it will be enough, but which, in reality, is the most powerful tool at my disposal. I walked around the corner and I began to pray out loud as I paced back and forth between the building and the road in this town where no one knows me. I would have done the same thing if I had been anywhere else.
I began to pray the litany that has rung in my own brain for the weeks and months since we started this latest and most drastic decline. I have become dependent on it. I have become persistent in it. I am convinced of the truth and the power of it…though I have yet to see it completely fulfilled in this situation.
Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!
God, You are our Provider. Send us Your Provision!
Your Word says that You cannot lie, so help us to see and remember Your Truth in this time of confusion. Order the chaos in her mind, Father God, and bring order to our emotions.
Father, You are full of mercy. Be merciful to us and to our loved one and help us to see that mercy in action!
You alone are the Source of Wisdom, Father. Grant wisdom to those who care for her and direction for us as we make decisions on her behalf.
You are our Peace! Surround us with Your Presence and comfort us in Your Love.
You are our Strength. Steel us for this battle!
God, You are our Healer. Help us to remain healthy so we can tend to the needs of our loved one. Give healing to her, as well, in whatever way You choose.
Father, You are our defender. Shelter us in this time of trouble!
God, You are our Hope and our Joy! Help us to actively search for You in this hard thing and share You with those around us.
Glorify Yourself in this situation and in us!
Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!
On and on it goes; attribute after attribute about my God circles through my head. Sometimes, in this order. Other times, it is changed, but it always begins and ends with “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!”
I am aware, you see, that my faith is flawed even though my God is not. This battle is just the latest in a series for us and, while that used to make me angry, I now see it as having been prepped for this battle. Mostly (but unfortunately not always–because of that flawed faith, again!) it makes me calmer when I am faced with all of the details that I cannot control, contain, or fully comprehend–NOT because I’m smarter or stronger, but because my faith in God is deeper than it used to be. Those same limitations can be applied to what is possible to know and understand about God, so this TOTALLY uncomfortable uncertainty for this Fixer-personality is not new to me. I have a long history of trusting in my Creator when facing challenges. I am completely cognizant that I cannot win this or any other battle alone. None of us can, but I know the One Who can make that a reality…and you can, too. We just have to start out by finding, acknowledging, and speaking the truth about who our God is. That’s simpler than it sounds. He wants to be known. He’s had a whole Book written just so we could know Him better.
He is a personal God and He loves us, individually and corporately. No matter what battle you’re facing and fighting–or running from!!–today, He is available just by calling His Name. Get to know Him and begin to call on Him today! (and call me, too, if I can help you get to know Him better. It would be an honor to share Him with you.)